Usability and Design

Commit to best practices

The main issue with government sites is that many of them are being run by people whose idea of the Web stopped growing around 2002. There are Web basics--testing with real users, formative user research, and advanced metrics and analytics programs--that everyone in the commercial sector is doing. The government needs to get with the program or risk total irrelevance. Another hint: ease off on Twitter and Facebook. You ...more »

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Policies and Principles

Make usability testing and 508 testing required PRIOR to launch

Launching sites without usability testing and 508 testing is a waste of time and money - it's always more expensive to fix these issues when left to the last minute. Rather, institutionalizing user testing (like GSA's First Fridays, for example) as well as 508 testing into the development cycle of government websites will result in better, more efficient and cheaper products .

Submitted by (@jonathanrubin)

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139 votes
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Policies and Principles

Needed: Web manager for **every** site

The problem of not knowing who is in charge of a website should not exist. Every site should have a web manager who has ultimate control over the content of that site, and who people should contact in terms of needing posts, edits, etc. It shouldn't be a mystery. While we're at it, it might not hurt to have content leads listed at the bottom of each page as well, as well as the date last updated.

Submitted by (@jonathanrubin)

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79 votes
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Content and Readability

Differentiate between ephemeral and evergreen content

Some content remains valid for a long time, and serves as an ongoing resource. Other content primarily serves the purpose of providing an update, but becomes dated and inaccurate quickly. Consciously consider the differences and act accordingly. I've seen it happen time and again where really solid content that has been carefully crafted for a long life gets drowned out by press-releasy stuff because they are in the ...more »

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Content and Readability

Plain language on government websites

Too much of the information on federal websites is poorly written and is too complex, especially for the web. Content managers need to pay more attention to the clarity of information. Most federal web content is covered by the Plain Writing Act of 2010, but transforming federal material into plain language will be a major challenge, especially since the underlying paper-based information is poorly written.

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Policies and Principles

Create an objective panel to review new domain requests

This function should no longer lie in the hands of Agency CIO's because it is no longer an IT function. It is a communications function and should lie in communicator's hands. GSA should establish an objective panel of communications professionals to evaluate new requests. They should also be mandated to deny most of them.

Submitted by (@cjguru)

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7 votes
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Content and Readability

A users forum to accompany every .gov website.

In the web design community, the use of moderated forums has been huge for the advancement of best practices and crowd-sourced customer support. Two examples that come to mind are: http://wordpress.org/support http://stackexchange.com Communities like these help to quickly answer user's questions, offer helpful advice, share experiences, etc. This would add a human voice to the often dry and frankly, unreadable instructions ...more »

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Beyond Websites (Mobile, Broadband...)

Leverage Unstructured Data & Designated Data Pages/Apps

This suggestion is three-fold: 1) The Government should be utilizing a multi-layer repository for information with semantic indexing to improve how data is gathered, stored, and made available to the public. Data.Gov is a great start, but government data needs to be integrated better with outside data and the whole thing needs to be more intuitively searchable. 2) Each data-supplying entity of the government should ...more »

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